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Video: NFL's smallest player scores on explosive kick return

Shutdown Corner

Brandon Banks(notes) is listed in his team's media guide at 5-foot-7, 150 pounds. Because the heights and weights of professional athletes are often rounded up (sort of like the opposite of women's driver's licenses), you can safely assume that Banks measures in at 5-foot-6 and a buck-forty-five-ish. Even with the possibly fudged height, the Washington Redskins kick returner is the smallest player in the NFL.

On Sunday, the littlest player made one of the biggest plays.

[Photos: More images of Redskins return man Brandon Banks]

The undrafted rookie out of Kansas State scored his first points in the NFL with an explosive 95-yard kickoff return in the team's game against the Detroit Lions. The touchdown gave the Redskins a temporary lead:


Banks also had big returns in the first half, twice putting the Redskins in good field position that eventually led to scores. He also had another touchdown return called back because of a penalty (which didn't affect the play). Though the official Week 8 stats are yet to be finalized, the 'Skins rookie should find himself in the top 10 of NFL players in both return categories on Tuesday.

The smallest player to ever play in the NFL was Jack "Soapy" Shapiro, who stood a slight 5-foot-1 during his brief stint with the 1929 Staten Island Stapletons. But those were the old days, when "big" players like Bronco Nagurski (6-foot-2, 226 pounds) were smaller than today's quarterbacks.

In the modern era, halfback Michael "Pinball" Clemons was one of the smallest to set foot on an NFL field. At 5-foot-6 and 166 pounds he was close to Banks' size. His NFL career lasted just eight games, though, and he failed to get in the end zone. (He would later go on to have a long, prosperous career both on and off the field in Canada.)

[Photo: Another record - the world's smallest man]

Banks was cut by the Redskins after the second week of the regular season, but was added to the practice squad a few days later. Once the team's regular kick returner was cut, Banks was added to the 53-man roster and immediately contributed, returning a punt 51 yards in his NFL debut in Week 4. Since then, he's taken over both return jobs and was always on the verge of breaking a return until he finally did so on Sunday.

Whoever said size matters clearly didn't have Brandon Banks in mind.

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